Do You Know Your Audience?

This email originally appeared in the August 22nd edition of The Scribble, KYC's bi-weekly marketing newsletter. You can subscribe to The Scribble at the top of this page.

Do you know your audience? I’m sure you answered yes, but now I’ll ask again - do you really know your audience? Its gender ratio? Age ranges? Where the people live? What about what they like to do? Are they into sports? Shopping? Travel?

Maybe you don’t have specific answers. I recognize it would be hard to know that exactly 38% of your target audience is between the ages of 26 and 35. You could never have data that specific unless you were tracking every single customer, which is near impossible. But hopefully you have a decent idea of who your audience is - more than 50% are female, they’re between 26 and 45, they like to cook and are into TV. Much of that information you can get anecdotally from interacting with your customers. It’s at least a start.

Ideally, you’re taking steps on an ongoing basis to get to know your customers better - focus groups, customer polls, or even a larger-scale market research project. If you’re not doing those things, I’d highly encourage them. Those things will give you the data to implement marketing strategies and campaigns that have numbers behind them, showing there’s a good likelihood they’ll work at reaching who you’re hoping to reach.

Knowing your audience and marketing research popped into my head after reading a recent article about how White Claw really drove this summer of hard seltzer that we’re in the midst of. I know we’ve talked a lot about hard seltzer over the past few months, so I’m not going to beat you over the head with more perspective on that trend. Rather, I want to talk about some of the marketing steps we’ve seen that led to it, and how companies in any industry can learn from it.

A piece of information from that article that really stuck out to me is that in contrast to most of the other hard seltzer companies that have recently launched, White Claw did not use a female-centric marketing approach. In fact, the article says they very deliberately did not allow gender to come into the visuals or language they were using. Most of the time, models don’t appear in that content at all. Instead they use visuals of beach or party scenes.

This gender-neutral approach enabled deep penetration into a demographic category many industry analysts did not predict as a major buyer of hard seltzer - male millennials, or “bros” as many refer to themselves online. White Claw has seen tons of user-generated content pop up from this demographic, from memes to videos to photos.

Was this something pre-planned from White Claw? The user-generated content was probably not, but the potential penetration into the male millennial market could’ve been. I’m sure they saw data about millennials in general craving more health conscious food and beverages. They probably also saw data about the types of images that connect with that age group - both men and women. Maybe they even saw data indicating that consumption of non-alcoholic seltzer was skyrocketing among all types of people. I would guess that they had a sense that hard seltzer could take off with both women and men, so the conscious effort to not gender focus was a planned initiative to enable selling into the male market.

Contrast this gender neutrality with how other seltzer brands, such as A-B InBev’s recently relaunched Bon & Viv (formerly known simply as SpikedSeltzer), have marketed themselves. A-B InBev rolled out Bon & Viv during the Super Bowl with ads featuring mermaids. Maybe not the best imagery to pull men in.

Want a non-seltzer example of knowing your audience?

The insurtech industry features many companies led by people who don’t come from an insurance background and instead have high tech backgrounds. These people are used to using words like ‘disruption’ and ‘transformation’ in their marketing materials. We have a client that’s comprised of people who come from insurance and tech. They recognized that using words like ‘disruption’ and ‘transformation’ with insurance carriers would end a meeting immediately. Those words scare insurers, because they immediately lead to thoughts of business interruption, which simply can’t happen in the insurance industry. Claims are filed every day and policyholders won’t stand for a service interruption because an insurer is migrating to a new technology system.

That sort of thinking is why the insurance industry lags far behind others in technology adoption. If you’re selling technology to an insurer, you need to have that knowledge so that you can message your product or solution appropriately, speaking their language and knowing which words to avoid. It seems sort of common sense, but you’d be amazed how many insurtech companies struggle to sell their solutions because of the language they’re using to describe them.

So back to you. How well do you know your customers? Are they who you think they are? Or are there some surprises in there, as we’ve seen with the hard seltzer industry? Does your messaging contain the right language for the people who are actually purchasing your products?

If you’re not sure, I’d encourage doing some research into your customers. A good place to begin is with an online poll containing demographic and socioeconomic questions. Utilize email and social media to drive people to it. If you get some surprises, it might be time to consider some adjustments to your marketing strategy.